United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. TRAUGER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court are Plaintiffs' Motion to Alter or Amend
the Judgment to Dismiss and for Leave to Amend Complaint
(Docket No. 21), Defendant's Response in Opposition
(Docket No. 23), and Plaintiffs' Reply (Docket No. 27).
For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiffs' Motion to
Alter or Amend is GRANTED in limited part,
simply to clarify the court's denial of the Motion to
Remand, and DENIED in all other respects.
Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint is
Order dated August 25, 2017, the court granted
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss this case and denied
Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand the case to state court.
Docket No. 19. Plaintiffs now ask the court to vacate that
Order, to find that the court has no subject matter
jurisdiction over this action, and to remand the case to
state court. Alternatively, Plaintiffs seek leave to amend
TO ALTER OR AMEND
Court may grant a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend if
there is (1) a clear error of law; (2) newly discovered
evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or
(4) a need to prevent manifest injustice. Intera Corp. v.
Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 620 (6th Cir. 2005).
argue that the court should have granted Plaintiffs'
Motion to Remand for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. In
their Motion to Remand this case to state court, Plaintiffs
asserted that the action was improperly removed to federal
court because it did not satisfy the amount required for
federal diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiffs contend that the
court should have granted the Motion to Remand for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction first, before proceeding to the
Motion to Dismiss.
court's prior Memorandum could have explained more
clearly why Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand would be denied,
denial of that motion was not incorrect. In their Complaint,
Plaintiffs sought compensatory damages for personal injury,
breach of contract, and negligent infliction of emotional
distress, plus statutory damages for bad faith, plus treble
damages for unfair and deceptive acts under the Tennessee
Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). Plaintiffs
claimed damages for medical expenses, past and future;
physical pain, past and future; mental, emotional suffering
and grief, past and future; loss of enjoyment of life, past
and future; permanent impairment and partial disability; lost
wages and lost earning capacity; loss of consortium; and
severe emotional distress. Docket No. 1-1.
placed no specific monetary amount or limit on the damages
they sought, and they did not disclaim any damages over $75,
000. Plaintiffs could have pled to avoid federal
jurisdiction, but they did not. Defendant's Notice of Removal
stated that the amount in controversy in this action exceeded
$75, 000, the amount required for this court to have
diversity jurisdiction. Docket No. 1. A federal district
court has original jurisdiction over any civil action where
the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,
000, exclusive of interest and costs, and the matter is
between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C. §
their Motion to Remand, Plaintiffs argued that the amount in
controversy did not exceed $75, 000. Plaintiffs attempted to
explain that the policy limits they sought under the
insurance policy at issue were $50, 000; that the claim
for statutory damages should not be included in the
calculation because Defendant argued that claim should be
dismissed; and that the treble damages sought under the TCPA,
likewise, should not be included in the calculation because
Defendant also argued that claim should be dismissed. Docket
determination of federal jurisdiction in a diversity case is
made at the time of removal. Rogers v. Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc., 230 F.3d 868, 871 (6th Cir. 2000);
Anderson v. Mid-Continent Aircraft Corp., 2015 WL
13188357 at * 1 (W.D. Tenn. April 6, 2015). Therefore, the
court looks to whether the action was properly removed in the
first place. Rogers, 230 F.3d at 871-72. The
determination of removability is at the time that the
complaint is filed, not when Plaintiffs recharacterize the
value of their claims to support their motion to remand.
Homoki v. Rivers Edge Tree Stands, 2012 WL 6631043
at * 2 (N.D. Ohio Dec. 19, 2012).
time of removal in this case, Plaintiffs sought not only
compensatory damages, but also statutory and treble damages.
At the time of removal, Plaintiffs sought the policy limits,
money for past and future damages, and additional damages for
the alleged bad faith and deceptive practices. Moreover, at the
time of removal, Plaintiffs' own valuation of the case,
and the amount Plaintiffs had demanded from Defendant for
these claims, was $100, 000. Docket No. 1-3. Although a
demand letter is not competent evidence to prove or disprove
the validity or amount of a disputed claim, the court may
consider it for “another purpose, ” Fed.R.Evid.
408(b), such as inquiring into whether the jurisdictional
threshold of the amount in controversy has been met.
Griffith v. Aleman, 2016 WL 2869794 at * 3 (W.D.
Tenn. May 17, 2016); Homoki, 2012 WL 6631042 at *
later challenge to the statutory and treble damages does not
change the fact that those damages were sought at the time of
removal. Diversity jurisdiction is determined by the amount
in controversy, not whether Defendant believes the
claims to have merit. As noted in Homoki,
“Adopting Plaintiffs' argument would destroy all
instances of diversity jurisdiction, for it is the rare
defendant who admits the veracity of his opponent's
claim.” Homoki, 2012 WL 6631042 at * 3.
Likewise, the fact that Defendant did not offer to settle
this matter for the full amount Plaintiff sought has no
bearing on the amount in controversy exceeded $75, 000.
reasons stated herein, the Motion to Remand was correctly
denied. The court finds that its prior Order and Memorandum